[MLS]Striker Chris Wondolowski started just eight of 14 games for the Quakes last year after arriving in a trade with Houston, but pressed into a starting role by injuries this season has scored a goal in each of the past three games. He’s been paired up top with veteran Ryan Johnson, who set him up for game-winning goals against New England and Colorado. Wondo, who also won and converted a penalty kick in a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA during his streak, took time to talk about his rapport his strong start and the strikers who inspire him ...
SOCCER AMERICA: You played a lot of games as a sub last year; how has that helped you find a good rapport with Ryan Johnson as a starter?
CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI:To be honest, Ryan Johnson is a tremendous forward. He hasn’t really got the stats this year, but the work that doesn’t go on the stats is unbelievable. The way he fights, he battles, he one of the strongest guys on the ball. He makes my job so much easier. He’s given me two great assists and it’s a tremendous honor to play with him.
SA: Does being a starter change your preparation or mindset at all during the days of training leading up to the game?
WONDOLOWSKI: It comes with the territory. You try not to get nervous, you try to do what you can, try to make an impression. If it’s starting and trying to score a goal, that’s what I’ll do, try to get that ‘W.’
SA: Some guys are reluctant to hit a ball first-time, they’d rather take a touch to set it up. The goals against the Rapids and Revs were both first-time strikes; is that something you’ve developed more recently?
WONDOLOWSKI: No, I’ve always been known to be able to finish. I pride myself on that. If I get a chance I’ll try to take it as soon as possible.
SA: Not many guys have come out of Chico State to succeed in MLS. How did you get to be confident of success, and really good at what you do?
WONDOLOWSKI: Practicing on it, game situations, and studying the game, whether you’re out there on the field or watching games, watching the great strikers. I study the game and try to learn from those things.
SA: Besides Ryan Johnson and the rest of your teammates, who are those great strikers?
WONDOLOWSKI : Of course Wayne Rooney, because of his work ethic and finishing. He’s amazing. I like watching the English Premier League, so Carlos Tevez is another player I like. He’s not in the Premier League but Lionel Messi is a great player, obviously. I’m not at that stage, but even in this league, there are guys like in Colorado, which has two good ones in Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, that you can learn from. I just try to piece myself out of a lot of strikers, and take a little bit out of every one.
SA: Fans like to talk about speed and strength as vital elements for a good striker, yet all the best ones seem to have great balance, and the ability to get off shots from awkward situations or odd bounces. Is that one of your attributes?
WONDOLOWSKI: Absolutely. I do believe in being able to shoot with both feet. [Against Colorado] I had a left-footed strike, the one [against New England April 17] was right-footed. I want to able to hit the ball well with both of them, and to do that you have to have good balance. And also get a few with my head.
SA: There have been several guys moved between the rosters of San Jose and Houston in the past few years. Is that an exchange program we should keep an eye on?
WONDOLOWSKI: I’m just one of them. I know Frank [Yallop] and Dom [Kinnear] have a good relationship, and they’re both tremendous coaches.